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The Air We Breathe

Viewing 15 posts - 31 through 45 (of 83 total)
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    First I wanted to say thank you to the JCF for all that you do to keep the legacy of Joseph Campbell alive and well :  )

    His wisdom is more important and relevant than ever, and offers us a road map to help understand the riddles of life.

    Your new website is fantastic! I’m loving the weekly MythBlasts – this one especially resonated with me! I’m grateful to everyone who has offered their thoughts and feelings on this article. It feels great to part of this COHO tribe.

    Great article Stephen! The metaphor you share of  how Covid-19 can literally “take our breath away” being similar to what us Human beings are doing to Mother Nature with our destructive environmental values, is profound and spot on!

    As previously mentioned, can “this moment be a call to adventure?” For the “Hero with 7 Billion Faces” to embark on a “collective Hero’s Journey on a global scale?”  I offer a resounding YES!

    Could the boon from this quest be a great awakening of Human consciousness? A time to open our heart chakras, and feel more compassion towards all sentient beings? And lose our taste for destroying the planet Earth? If even “reluctantly”, could this be the beginning of the shift we’ve all been waiting for? From ego man to Universal man, like JC said, into “global consciousness” here on “spaceship Earth”. Instead of only caring about ourselves – “the whole planet should be our field of concern.”

    As we know, mythology helps us understand ourselves, and the world around us. May we all use this moment, with all of its fear, racial division, hatred, and uncertainty – as a time to answer the call. May we all work together to create new ways of thinking and being. May we “expand to a larger field of relationships.”

    As a planet, may we collectively use this pandemic experience to come together as never before.

    As we enter the mystery of the unknown, if we can hold on to the “Ariadne thread”  we can come out of this labyrinth together as an improved Human race. Just like Earth, “given the chance – we can heal ourselves.” I’s nice to be reminded that we are not alone. Like Campbell said, “where we stumble and fall – is treasure.”

    As we close the circle of this “collective Hero’s Journey”, and return – hopefully we can write a new story/ myth for these modern times. One that can serve our humanity with ideas that are not outdated – like the one’s still popular today. And may it have a new MUSICAL soundtrack to fill the air with song and help us “rise together” into a brave new world…. no longer separate – but united as ONE

    In the words of the Grateful Dead’s lyricist Robert Hunter, “one way or another, this darkness got to give.”

    Peace & Love my brothers and sisters!

    The Universe has our back!










    All of these ideas being discussed are a great respite from some of the current rhetoric out in the media. As we focus in on the breathe of the world, I am reminded of the chakra system. I imagine the citizens of Earth as a collective body, the “Hero with 7 billion faces” as Stephen said, and recognize this current emphasis on the lungs, the voice, the breath. It reminds my of Joseph Campbell’s teachings on the chakra system and the purpose of kundalini yoga.  With COVID-19 attacking the breath, with the masks we wear that cover up our mouths, our smiles, and our voices, with the outcry of millions against systemic racism sparked by George Floyd’s final words, “I Can’t Breathe”, the symbolism is beautifully clear. The throat, the voice, the breathe; all under great pressure. In a time like this, we should strive to use our voices and our breath in unity, to sing a collective song, to become unified. I agree with pilgrim1 that a powerful force for this moment would be music and songs of revolution.

    Today I will imagine this collective body of ours, and this kundalini snake winding up our spine, stopping now at the center of the throat, stuck there. I will mediate on air, on a song to sing, on what I can do to move the energy past this chakra and into the next one, Ajna, the chakra of the third eye. I will continue to be mindful and gracious of the wind and air that moves through my body today, giving me life, which is the same wind that moves through the world today, giving life to others.

    Thanks to everyone for contributing to this space where ideas can flow. I am happy to be a part of this community, especially in times like these, that are truly mythogenic.

    With Bliss,



    Thank you Doug Harris, and Isabelle (love your cybername of centersoul, Isabelle), for your kind words, and your passion – and especially for returning the focus to Breath.

    Normally, my heart beats on its own —“I” don’t exert direct conscious control over the frequency or intensity of my pulse. All other bodily processes — circulation, perspiration, metabolism, etc. — are similarly autonomic, or “unconscious.” Obviously, I am beating my heart, monitoring my internal body temperature, secreting the necessary hormones — but not the conscious, waking me.

    Breathing also occurs without conscious direction or intervention — yet it is different from other involuntary processes in that we can consciously control our breath. Hence breathing is that bodily process where consciousness and the unconscious most clearly intersect, and so has long served as a launching pad for subjective explorations of the mystery of Being.

    Joseph Campbell charts this development as starting roughly 5,000 years ago, once someone in India noticed that we breathe differently when being chased by a tiger than when lounging on the lush green banks of river skipping stones across the water.

    In the first circumstance, one is in an agitated state of mind; in the second, one is peaceful, calm and serene. Naturally it’s the circumstances that trigger the breathing and the state of mind (who isn’t agitated when chased by a tiger?), but what if we turn it around and put the breathing first?

    You begin by breath control, by breathing to certain paces, and the breath is very curious … The notion is that emotion and feeling and state of mind are related to breath. When you are at rest, the breathing is in a nice, even order. When you are stirred with shock, the breathing changes. With passion the breathing changes. Change the breathing, and you change the state.

    Joseph Campbell, Mythos II

    Sure enough, hyperventilating can leave one anxious and agitated, even if there are no tigers in the immediate vicinity, while focusing on steadying the breath induces tranquility and equanimity, leaving one open to Stillness — the Silence beneath the rush of reality.

    So while Breath is a core archetypal image reverberating through multiple collective crises that have overtaken us today, it also  offers a means of maintaining balance and grounding amid the turbulence and turmoil. This doesn’t mean retreat to a mountaintop and withdraw from the world – but amid wearing masks and practicing social distancing, protesting racism, and working to decrease reliance on fossil fuels, a little conscious breathing helps us be mindful about what we do.


    Just as a bit of an addendum, my county in California is experiencing a huge spike, with hospitalizations nearing capacity (though ICU beds remain available, staffing to care for patients is close to maxed out). So it was bit disconcerting to find out last week that in the county building where my wife works a cluster of employees in the department across the hall had been infected – and then this week we learned one of my wife’s co-workers is sick with Covid-19.

    My wife works in IT; even though everyone is being careful and, thanks to a statewide order, finally masked, she is particularly at risk as she often needs to interact with employees and their equipment at their workstations. As a result, we have both been approved for coronavirus tests (if you count age I have four underlying conditions, two of which make me really high risk). Given the high demand the earliest appointment available is after the 4th of July weekend . . . and then it will take 4 to 6 days to get the results.

    Naturally, the uncertainty is disconcerting – living in limbo is no fun – but until we learn more or symptoms manifest, the best thing I can do is remember to Breathe . . .


      So here we are Mary, Michael, Stephen, Nandu, philspar, Pilgram 1; and anyone else who might be reading this post and watching a virus that is exploding. We’ve been discussing it in this thread off and on since June 22; and in 3 weeks the head of the: “World Health Organization” 2 days ago is tearfully pleading for the planet to pay attention and come together to fight this thing. This is no longer a fantasy subject that affects the other person somewhere else; it is now the most serious threat to the human population in our lifetime. The first efforts in Europe have had some success; “but” efforts at a shutdown in the US did not work because people didn’t take it seriously enough and intentional political misinformation has persuaded certain groups they have the right to disregard the seriousness of this horrific danger. This is not a: “chicken little – the sky is falling” fairy tale. And just because people can’t see it many are confused on whether it’s real or not and feel their rights are being abused and are being encouraged by this manipulated political narrative to disregard it’s threat and are infecting others at rates never seen before. To me this is absolutely insane when you can see the frightening results of this false premise right in front of you. More lockdowns with the possibility of the entire healthcare system collapsing is the warning now under consideration by healthcare professionals.

      So after listening to this short clip from just 2 days ago I just mentioned I think more needs to be; (and can be) discussed concerning Joseph’s ideas concerning this situation of turning: “thou’s into it’s” for instance; or the efforts of trying to understand and integrate the personal as well as the collective “Shadow” that’s driving much of this fear, hatred, and toxic rhetoric that’s helping to spread this “Global” Pandemic.

      Where I live Political Marches; and return to “Economic Normal” efforts are part of the reason this thing is spreading like wildfire; and people; (myself included); are absolutely terrified by what is happening because of this confusion of what to do about it. And I think this terror is compounded by the feeling of helplessness resulting either because people are shut-in and can’t move about; as well as efforts that are being made that are not working; and that’s just to name two things right off the bat. The political discourse purposely further exacerbates this fear and mistrust so it is my feeling that “fact-based” narrative is a must as a starter for establishing a dialogue for common ground. Especially considering that medical facts are so critical for treating this disease.

      Another issue Joseph mentioned about myth is two things hold a society together; (terror and aspiration); and he used the great Cathedrals of the 12th century as examples of what he called the common community madness that drove them to create these magnificent manifestations of their zeal to express their connection to their myth. The Crusades might be another; but I digress. So my question is: “What are your thoughts about Joseph’s ideas and how they might fit in to this situation; (and I’m not talking about passive: “que sera sera” either; but proactive progressive ideas like the ones he inspired. Seeing your neighbor as yourself is much easier than seeing your enemy as your friend; and reaching out to a closed fist is not very encouraging when people all around you are sick and possibly dying. Any thought of laying in a hospital ward on a respirator waiting to possibly die is not my idea of thinking about this thing. Joseph said we are in a: “Free Fall into the Future”; and retreating into a shell is not my impression of what he meant. Jung’s ideas to me are one thing he brought forth that for me represent hope; so does anyone else have something to throw into this discussion? And if you think my concern is over dramatizing this situation listen to the clip:

      Richard Sumpter


        It seems to me that JC responded to Bill Moyers with something like:  “Myth won’t tell you how to change the world.  It will tell you how to live in it.”  And “A vital person vitalizes the world he lives in.”
        But I’m not sure how to most effectively operationalize this.  Like you, I don’t advocate “que sera, sera,” but at 82 years of age I realize I’m on the downhill side of the day, and like Campbell, the myths tell me how to let go.  “It is not life and wealth and power that enslave men, but the cleaving to life and wealth and power.” -Buddha (c. 563-483 BCE)

        I’m also guided by the Dahl Lama:  “When asked what surprised him most about humanity, the Dalai Lama answered: “Man.  Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money.  Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health.  And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.”

        I hope this doesn’t sound like I’m resigned to the status quo.  In my spirit I’m not; in my body I find I have more mass than energy.

        Thanks for pushing out the topic.

        Pilgrim 1


        Richard Sumpter

          Here’s a pice that resonates with me:

          The Three Equations for a Happy Life, Even During a Pandemic.


            Pilgrim1; thank you for such a thoughtful reply to my post request.

            I hear you about age; and yes at 71 I’m no spring chicken either; and concerning the Dali Lama I think we are talking about a difference in psychological position; not necessarily engagement with the world; and yes I agree if I’m understanding you correctly. But there is of course the difference between happiness and meaning as well as engagement with what is happening at the moment; (that being); you know you are engaged with time; and time is dual; and no matter what you do it’s not going to necessarily line up to someone else’s benefit or point of view. Joseph mentions this when he talks about duality where one side loses and the other side wins; but we are talking about more than just playing a tennis match; we are looking at devastation of the human race concerning this virus. Yes I agree you can be at peace with whatever happens but you can participate in a part of the play that can help determine the outcome for everyone; not just the tennis match; (if that makes sense). Yes; this is a great point you raise and I really like the way you are approaching it for this is exactly the kind of discussion I was hoping for because we are “pushing” boundaries.

            Joseph many times says the same thing in different ways; and I think he is “not” saying something is set in stone here because you innovate. Life is not a “scripted” adventure; and the maverick innovates from the: “thou shalt systems”; that’s why he is a maverick; and from that position because life is constantly changing I don’t think in this case we are necessarily addressing a parameter the article is “usually” up against.

            If I consider my responsibilities to others I love; (much less my fellow human beings); this is not something set because we are addressing something we can affect; (that is if we can get everyone on board); and yes; Joseph talked about being comfortable with whatever happens including a nuclear war. But we as individuals can make a difference in this case where the rules happen to be slightly altered. And like a pebble dropped into a pool of water the ripples of our influence flow outward. (That’s what I’m talking about.) Not trying to stop a freight train; you’ll get run over if you do that. And something I think that’s often missed that he said about reality is: “if you see a snake about to bite someone you kill it”. This I think is closer to the approach I was getting at.

            Yes; I think the Dali Lama piece is excellent and I have no problem with it what-so-ever; and I think most of the time this fits. But these are extraordinary times; and if I see a snake in the form of a virus about to take me and everyone I love out I think it’s important to do something if one is able. (And just so you know I don’t think you weren’t saying otherwise either; at least as far as I could tell.) But this is not a normal situation and each one of us can do something if we choose to engage. And I think “engage” is one of the concepts the Dali Lama was addressing; and under normal circumstances I would agree; but this is not a normal set of parameters. In this case one size does not fit everyone; your born, grow up, become an adult, raise a family or find a career or both, retire, pass on. “Myth goes past that to what informs it”; but as you may be suggesting the choice is up to each individual as to what they do; and yes I most definitely agree here. If you are suggesting something different; then my apologies for any misassumptions on my part.  (I think this is a great contribution you have made to this subject.)


            James wrote, The idea of “Gaia” or Earth Mother principle would be one since we are now talking about the planet as a biological entity; (especially since the Coronavirus is a biological species and could be seen as an agent of change). ” I find my mind wrapped up around this as I keep thinking of both Joseph Campbell’s and Brian Swimme’s ideas of the “new myth.”


            Earthrise is a symbol that is working its way slowly into our consciousness. One sees it in many places. CBS News used it for a long time on Walter Cronkite’s program. Strangely enough, it is being used — set afire, however — to publicize the movie “The Late Great Planet Earth.” That is a fire‐and‐brimstone account of the end of the world in literal biblical terms. That use of earthrise seems a good example of the resistance you describe to the space age and its central metaphor.

            The sense of apocalypse is very widespread and I believe it is a rejection of this new age. That is why there is so much interest in disaster. It’s more than just the thrill of the movies. It is evidence of how deep the notion of the apocalyptic moment is. We hate ourselves so much that we take delight in the destruction of people. It is like reading the worst of the prophets in the Bible.


            The mystical theme of the space age is this: The world, as we know it, is coming to an end. The world as the center of the universe, the world divided from the heavens, the world bound by horizons in which love is reserved for members of the in‐group: That is the world that is passing away. Apocalypse does not point to a fiery Armageddon but to the fact that our ignorance and our complacency are coming to an end. Our divided, schizophrenic world view, with no mythology adequate to coordinate our conscious and unconscious, that is what is coming to an end. The exclusivism of there being only one way in which we can be saved, the idea that there is a single religious group that is in sole possession of the truth, that is the world as we know it that must pass away. What is the Kingdom?

            (Retrieved from:

            After reading Jame’s thoughts and feelings about fearing this pandemic, and I feel fear as well, I just hope that we do not find out too late that the “Kingdom” is this earth. In thinking of everyone’s posts in this thread, I think of the following quotes. I have not been feeling very self-expressive lately, so forgive how sloppily I may be at trying to stitch these quotes/thoughts together here:

            This is the greatest discovery of the scientific enterprise: You take hydrogen gas, and you leave it alone, and it turns into rosebuds, giraffes and humans.

            –Brian Swimme

            With the above quote, I think of how many new myths we might make out of the Earthrise myth. I also associate this with Pilgrim’s response about the scientific components of the air we breath and then his mentions about how music is needed in these times.

            “The earth was once molten rock and now sings operas.”
            ― Brian Swimme, Canticle to the Cosmos, 1990

            And the mouth opening to sing the opera is like the first utterance of any human on earth; it is an opening:

            “It was out of the dynamic of cosmic celebration that we were created in the first place. We are to become celebration and generosity, burst into self-awareness. What is the human? The human is a space, an opening, where the universe celebrates its existence.”

            ― Brian Swimme, The Universe Is a Green Dragon: A Cosmic Creation Story

            But now it seems not enough are heeding the dangers of this virus, and that now we are damning that existence. Here we could perhaps ask, and what is this virus? Is it too a space? Is it here to fill our space? It is filling our air and then our bodies. During the shutdown, the air was cleaner. The human openings that we are just had to rush and open things too soon and we gave COVID-19 its second wave; we needed our free energy so badly we threw caution to the 4 winds.

            “Each being in the universe yearns for the free energy necessary for survival and development. Each existence resists extinction. The consequent history of violence in the universe is as inevitable as the gravitational pull between the Earth and the Sun.”

            ― Brian Swimme, The Universe Story: From the Primordial Flaring Forth to the Ecozoic Era–A Celebration of the Unfolding of the Cosmos

            And now I am thinking of James wrote: “Jung’s ideas to me are one thing he brought forth that for me represent hope; so does anyone else have something to throw into this discussion?”

            Jung, in one of his seminars, stated that humans have two basic instincts: The instinct (will) to live and the instinct (will) to die. The first time I ever read this, it spiraled my mind far outside of myself into numerous almost unutterable thoughts. I could understand an individual body’s death instinct when it has after all exhausted itself; however, it seemed rather unfathomable that humans as a species and collective psyche would have a death instinct of its own species. I did  some writing about this a few years back, about human ecological destruction; it seemed bad enough back then with all our self-made pollution in the air to cause disease; and now, with this virus in the air and in our psyches, we children of the earth so dependent on its fate,  just like an ideal school art project, hope has become an open-ended assignment.

            As Stephen discussed, we cover our mouths with our masks and at a time when George Floyd could not breathe, neither can we. That is terrifying. In all its terror, it is the unfolding of the archetype of breath, first the fire-breathing dragons of the forest fires in the West, and the green-dragon (Swimme) myth now as we make up our myths about the corona virus, and at this some have failed to get the “meaning of the myth” as Campbell would often say, and next what types of operas will we write? What type of music will we sing? Who will write our new lyrics? Who will participate in the making of the new melody of the uni-verse? When the first wave hit, we kept hearing/seeing ads that “we are all in this together,” and then we saw how truly together we are/how catching the covid* is and then we seemed to split apart into factions of half and half fractions of who will wear a mask and who will not wear a mask, and then considering ourselves as one is not always such a favorite thing to consider when, as James wrote so poignantly “reaching out to a closed fist is not very encouraging when people all around you are sick and possibly dying.” So now we are left with our memories of the good ol’ days which were only almost yesterday.

            So what are the new songs, the new openings, the new myths? And do we have some myths to close first, shutting things down again? Or to close down the virus altogether with the much anticipated vaccine? Some are creating the myth that the invisible Dragon Covid barely exists since it cannot be seen; some create the myth of going to the Covid party because the knight believed that Covid was a hoax but then sometime in the night sea journey the knight got sick and died; some believe this is the end of the world we have all been waiting for, saying the Mayans were only 8 years off (from their predicted 2012); some don’t care–they believe in heaven anyway and have no kids or grandkids here on the planet; many didn’t care about the 7 generations before them let alone the 7 generations after to follow; some will retreat to their bomb shelters and be the last earthling alive; some will blast out into and colonize space (if only they could already); some will search for a cure and make up myths about the cure; humans become covid-breathing dragons while others wear not just gas-masks but covid masks; some will continue to wonder if Gaia did not produce this virus to shut us down to clear the air long enough to provide us an opportunity to develop alternative energy sources we would actually quickly put to use before 2030, and some of us open our eyes just so we cannot bear to see what we see when our eyes are closed, our grandchildren left suffering here on earth when we are long gone from its surface. Others believe in and await a new dawn:

            We must live as though we are setting the pattern for the future. At any moment, we may be. How the present period of human inflation ends will determine whether the stable period that is coming will be dark and repressive or will nurture the human spirit. It may sound terribly overwhelming and even unfair that so much responsibility for the future rides on every decision we make. But no — this way we live large. This is what it means to matter to the universe. Like the ancients who felt there was a bridge between their acts and the invisible beyond, our generation’s choices will have power over times and size-scales that we can hardly imagine. If we take on the cosmic responsibility, we get the cosmic opportunity — that rarest of opportunities for the kind of transcendent cultural leap possible only at the dawn of a new picture of the universe.

            —Joel Primack and Nancy Abrams, The View from the Center of the Universe, 2006

            *covid: a word (a name for a virus) I prefer to usually not capitalize


              Mary; I hope you will allow me to just step back and pause for a moment to take in and assimilate what you have so beautifully and powerfully articulated. Just stunning in it’s breadth and scope and so moving in it’s reach. In so many ways I think you have put your finger on what so many of us are feeling right now. As you suggest it’s not retreating but going inside ourselves to contemplate; to revision; to think about not just what we face; but trying to think about this in a new way. It reminds me of “Pegasus and the Golden Bridle” in relation to hope and our challenges ahead. We absolutely must tame the powers of the dark side within us as Jung saw; and how we will accomplish this I do not know; perhaps others may have thoughts to contribute. But I simply must say again how deeply moved I am by what you have brought to this topic. Thank you!


              Richard Sumpter


                I was so pleased to see your references and quotes of Brian Swimme.  I count him and Campbell as the two most formative sources in my education.  Several years ago, as an adjunct instructor, I created and taught a course called “Cosmology for the Non-Scientist.”  It was built on Swimme’s book, “The Universe Story” and his Canticle to the Cosmos.

                We have, throughout this discussion chain, alluded to the need for new myths, and how we might go about creating them.  For good or for ill, whether consciously or unconsciously, I believe we are actually doing it.  I would cite one of my favorite Swimme quotes to illustrate:

                “That which fascinates the human imagination will become that which shapes life.  We are a space that enables the future to act in the present in a major new way.  We transform the life process into a teleological process.  What goals, purposes, aims, are we going to choose as human beings?  What we choose will become the central shaping power of the life process.
                At a personal level, that which grips your imagination will determine your life and character.  That’s why it’s important to guard your imagination from pollution.
                At a species level, that which fascinates the human imagination is already that which life is becoming.” – Brian Swimme

                A great challenge for me is the rather constant oscillation between the macro and the micro viewpoint – from the cosmos to the quark, from our U.S. Constitution to a silly Executive Order, from a global pandemic to a virus so small it isn’t even a single celled organism.  This change in perspectives necessary to understand things really demands the kind of transformation of consciousness Campbell so often speaks about.  In a pragmatic sense, it gives truth to this quote by Alan Kay: “A change in perspective is worth 80 IQ points.”

                But it was Brian Swimme who enabled me to go from microscope to telescope and connect all the dots in-between.  So thanks for introducing him into this discussion.  It’s always good to find a kindred spirit.

                Pilgrim 1


                  Richard; this is a wonderfully thoughtful and reflective response to Mary’s post; and IMHO further articulates what we need to be thinking about looking forward. Your refinements not only lift and support things we need to be visioning; but the attitude and psychological position necessary to bring any kind of positive change to fruition. Your emphasis on new ways of interpreting and thinking about Joseph’s ideas; (i.e. Brian Swimme for instance who I was not familiar with; thank you for that); speak volumes; and your thought processes behind how they fit into this larger picture move this discussion even further in a direction away from the hopelessness now being experienced by so many who are locked into a frozen state of despair. A despair furthered by political interests who care little for the public welfare at the expense of their loss of power.

                  As Joseph might frame this situation of turning: “thou’s into it’s”; has brought about an atmosphere that pits one side against the other where our humanity is lost sight of and we have become besieged at the expense of our inability to recognize the blind spot of our societal unknown face. And the tone this situation produces further encourages our collective Shadow-side to rule over “any” efforts to find common ground in the larger arena of our public discourse. Your thoughtful and reflective tone along with Mary’s bring a refreshing and hopeful air to what would normally be a gloomy and depressing topic concerning what is now a “global” pandemic. A topic that like a: “house of mirrors”; leads nowhere but further into a gridlock of endless downward spiraling toward a medical oblivion with this virus leading the way. (This IMHO is a wonderful addition to this topic.) Thank you for this terrific input.

                  One last thought if I may add is the inspiring tone these new additions bring to this subject; and like a hopeful ray of hope bring sunshine pouring into a window that has long been shuttered by the hopeless despair by which it has been enclosed. (Thank you for your fresh perspective which you have brought to this topic; and I hope more will follow.)


                  Hi Stephen,

                  I am not sure if I missed that or not; sometimes I am on the computer at “odd” hours and end up in a bit of a mind fog not seeing, or at the time thinking, of the whole picture. Lately I have been in a rush of things even though I am not working outside the home anymore. Thank you for calling this to my attention.

                  I did seem to notice the air being clearer here, and cleaner, just as you discussed in your post.

                  I also noticed the clouds were less pressed down upon our lake atmosphere here when there was less traffic and pollution. It seemed when there was less pollution and when there were clouds, they were higher in the atmosphere. Now when there are rain clouds or storms clouds they hang very low again. That sometimes looks rather ominous to me. Cloud patterns started to change here over the lake where I live (a wide open space on one of the Great Lakes, which together comprise a freshwater ocean, so the opportunity to view the cloud patterns is almost as immense as over the oceans) around 2004-2006, sometime around there. (My timing might be off, though–” I was so much younger then, I’m older than that now.”)

                  I hope people take heed of the pollution we humans are causing starting now, as some climate change scientists are predicting we have until 2030 before we reach our tolerance level threshold at a point when we  would not be able to turn it around. I do not want my granddaughter and her friends and her future children to suffer bad air. It breaks my heart to think about it.

                  I loved your post and topic, Stephen. The topic thread you began is what is most immediately vital now and I am so grateful for this forum topic thread. I have enjoyed everyone’s thoughtful responses and may the gods and fates bless everyone here in the forum~I am so grateful to be here with people of like mind with whom I resonate.

                  Sincerely, thank you to everyone here,

                  –Mary Ann


                  Hi, James,

                  I too think it is insane; I saw some disheartening videos on Facebook the other day about wearing masks or not consisting of confused rhetoric creating arguments that did not make sense–that is how confused people are. It is so sad. You sum it up so succinctly, yet with breadth, and give much to further consider here.

                  So it seems now we have a new twist on Shakespeare: “To wear a mask or not to wear a mask, that is the question.”

                  Thank you for your wonderful post,

                  Mary Ann

                  Richard Sumpter

                    Mary Ann,

                    Your commentary on masks is relevant to my personal journal entry today.  I post it here.

                    I have seen in the news several commentaries on how the pandemic has been politicized.  The most visible sign of this has become wearing or not wearing a mask.  TV news outlets have aired numerous accounts of people who refuse to wear a mask.  I have heard them say things like, “This is America.  They can’t make me wear a mask,” or “It’s a free country.  Wear one if you want but don’t force it on me.”  People who do wear masks have tried to reason with or respond to non-wearers with a fairly consistent message: “It’s not just about you.  Not observing the rules can endanger others.”  Those who refuse to follow the rules are often self-identified Trump followers, and/or conservatives.  The others are largely liberals.

                    Over a year ago I wrote a lengthy essay trying to determine the major principles that differentiated liberals from conservatives.

                    Essentially, I concluded that the fundamental difference is that conservatives privileged individual freedom over the common good, a case of self vs other.  Liberals privileged the community over the individual and made the common good the higher priority.  (I also had a briefer entry in this journal on 6-24-20.)  The mask wearing issue is a clear illustration of my contention.  It is further born out by the rules promulgated by Republican governors compared to those mandated by Democratic governors.

                    Later today, pundits in the TV news described the unwillingness to require masks as an example of how Trump followers deny science.  I think they are actually denying that they have any responsibility toward the common good when it impinges on their own personal freedom; and denying the science behind the pandemic is a necessary step to permit them to privilege individual freedom over communal good.

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